Lilian Thuram demands action after racist abuse of Lukaku
Former France star Lilian Thuram expressed exasperation at the lack of action to tackle racism in football, after Romelu Lukaku was abused.
Lilian Thuram has questioned whether football chiefs will ever back up outraged words with firm actions after Inter striker Romelu Lukaku became the latest player to suffer racist abuse. World Cup winner Thuram says a culture of white supremacy is the underlying cause of the spate of racist incidents blighting football. As well as incidents in stadiums, a rising tide of social media abuse of black players has tarnished the glossy image of the modern game.
Thuram, a black Frenchman born in Guadeloupe, played for 10 years in Italy with Parma and then Juventus. He has been politically active since his playing days, speaking out often against racism in sport and issues of inequality in society.
An issue that's been going on too long
Former Manchester United striker Lukaku faced abuse when playing for Inter at Cagliari on Sunday, with the Italian Football Federation and FIFA quick to condemn the crowd conduct. But in an interview with Corriere dello Sport, Thuram questioned: "For how many years have there been such reactions after such events? In the end everyone thinks it's something serious, but a solution has yet to be found. If we talk about it for many years, but nothing can be done, it means there is tremendous hypocrisy and there is no will to solve the problem."
He added: "Everyone says, 'Let's do something,' but nobody really does anything. And the racists believe they are right." He claimed anyone who fails to back up their words by acting decisively is effectively complicit, but that there are ways of encouraging societal shifts. "In France, for example, the referees interrupt the games in the event of homophobia in the stands: to suspend the game and send the two teams to the changing room can educate people. In Italy I don't remember any such strong positions," he said.
Thuram, now 47, retired as a player in 2008 after a two-year stint at Barcelona. He was a member of France's triumphant 1998 World Cup team and believes white-against-black racism is endemic in large parts of the world.
"We need to be aware that the world of football is not racist, but that there is racism in Italian, French, European and more generally in white culture," he explained. "Whites have decided they are superior to blacks and that they can do anything with them. It is something that has been going on for centuries unfortunately. And to change a culture is not easy."